Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
Improving Taxonomic Practices and Enhancing Its Extensibility—An Example from Araneology
Diversity 2022, 14(1), 5; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d14010005 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Planetary extinction of biodiversity underscores the need for taxonomy. Here, we scrutinize spider taxonomy over the last decade (2008–2018), compiling 2083 published accounts of newly described species. We evaluated what type of data were used to delineate species, whether data were made freely [...] Read more.
Planetary extinction of biodiversity underscores the need for taxonomy. Here, we scrutinize spider taxonomy over the last decade (2008–2018), compiling 2083 published accounts of newly described species. We evaluated what type of data were used to delineate species, whether data were made freely available, whether an explicit species hypothesis was stated, what types of media were used, the sample sizes, and the degree to which species constructs were integrative. The findings we report reveal that taxonomy remains largely descriptive, not integrative, and provides no explicit conceptual framework. Less than 4% of accounts explicitly stated a species concept and over one-third of all new species described were based on 1–2 specimens or only one sex. Only ~5% of studies made data freely available, and only ~14% of all newly described species employed more than one line of evidence, with molecular data used in ~6% of the studies. These same trends have been discovered in other animal groups, and therefore we find it logical that taxonomists face an uphill challenge when justifying the scientific rigor of their field and securing the needed resources. To move taxonomy forward, we make recommendations that, if implemented, will enhance its rigor, repeatability, and scientific standards. Full article
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Article
Microbiome Changes of Endemic Lake Baikal Sponges during Bleaching Syndrome Development
Diversity 2021, 13(12), 653; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13120653 - 08 Dec 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
The sponge (Porifera) microbiome is an indicator of both natural and anthropogenic stressors. Studying Baikal sponge microbial communities could help reveal if there is a connection between bacterial symbionts and a mass sponge bleaching event that was recently detected; 16S rRNA sequencing was [...] Read more.
The sponge (Porifera) microbiome is an indicator of both natural and anthropogenic stressors. Studying Baikal sponge microbial communities could help reveal if there is a connection between bacterial symbionts and a mass sponge bleaching event that was recently detected; 16S rRNA sequencing was performed among healthy and diseased freshwater sponges of Lubomirskia baikalensis and Baikalospongia intermedia, which were collected from Lake Baikal, Russia. A phylum-based taxonomic classification showed that Chlorophyta, Acidobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria and Cyanobacteria were most abundant across samples. When comparing healthy and diseased L. baikalensis samples, large variations in microbial composition were found at the phylum level. Comparative analyses, which were performed for the first time for B. intermedia, showed a decrease in Chlorophyta (unicellular green algae) and an increase in Bacteroidetes and Cyanobacteria in diseased specimens. At the genus level, the Opitutus (Verrucomicrobia), Planctomyces, and Nitrospira content increased in all diseased sponges, which reflected a general tendency toward an increase in Cyanobacteria in diseased sponges. Comparative analysis of the diseased and healthy sponge metagenomes showed that diseased sponges underwent various nonspecific changes in bacterial composition. The bacterial community composition is probably influenced by sponge type and degree of disease affection. Full article
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Article
Biogeography of Long-Jawed Spiders Reveals Multiple Colonization of the Caribbean
Diversity 2021, 13(12), 622; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13120622 - 26 Nov 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Dispersal ability can affect levels of gene flow thereby shaping species distributions and richness patterns. The intermediate dispersal model of biogeography (IDM) predicts that in island systems, species diversity of those lineages with an intermediate dispersal potential is the highest. Here, we tested [...] Read more.
Dispersal ability can affect levels of gene flow thereby shaping species distributions and richness patterns. The intermediate dispersal model of biogeography (IDM) predicts that in island systems, species diversity of those lineages with an intermediate dispersal potential is the highest. Here, we tested this prediction on long-jawed spiders (Tetragnatha) of the Caribbean archipelago using phylogenies from a total of 318 individuals delineated into 54 putative species. Our results support a Tetragnatha monophyly (within our sampling) but reject the monophyly of the Caribbean lineages, where we found low endemism yet high diversity. The reconstructed biogeographic history detects a potential early overwater colonization of the Caribbean, refuting an ancient vicariant origin of the Caribbean Tetragnatha as well as the GAARlandia land-bridge scenario. Instead, the results imply multiple colonization events to and from the Caribbean from the mid-Eocene to late-Miocene. Among arachnids, Tetragnatha uniquely comprises both excellently and poorly dispersing species. A direct test of the IDM would require consideration of three categories of dispersers; however, long-jawed spiders do not fit one of these three a priori definitions, but rather represent a more complex combination of attributes. A taxon such as Tetragnatha, one that readily undergoes evolutionary changes in dispersal propensity, can be referred to as a ‘dynamic disperser’. Full article
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Article
Italian Vascular Flora: New Findings, Updates and Exploration of Floristic Similarities between Regions
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 600; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13110600 - 21 Nov 2021
Cited by 12
Abstract
The tradition of floristic studies in Italy has made it possible to obtain a good knowledge of plant diversity both on a national and regional scale. However, the lack of knowledge for some areas, advances in plant systematics and human activities related to [...] Read more.
The tradition of floristic studies in Italy has made it possible to obtain a good knowledge of plant diversity both on a national and regional scale. However, the lack of knowledge for some areas, advances in plant systematics and human activities related to globalization, highlight the need for further studies aimed at improving floristic knowledge. In this paper, based on fieldwork and herbaria and literature surveys, we update the knowledge on the Italian vascular flora and analyze the floristic similarities between the administrative regions. Four taxa, all exotic, were recorded for the first time in Italy and Europe. In detail, Elaeodendron croceum, Kalanchoë blossfeldiana, and Sedum spathulifolium var. spathulifolium were found as casual aliens, while Oxalis brasiliensis was reported as historical record based on some herbarium specimens. Furthermore, Kalanchoë laxiflora was confirmed as a casual alien species for Italy and Europe. Status changes for some taxa were proposed at both national and regional levels, as well as many taxa were reported as new or confirmed at the regional level. Currently the Italian vascular flora comprises 9150 taxa of which 7547 are native (of which 1598 are Italian endemics) and 1603 are exotic at the national level. The multivariate analysis of updated floristic data on a regional scale showed a clear distribution along the latitudinal gradient, in accordance with the natural geographical location of the regions in Italy. This pattern of plants distribution was not affected by the introduction of alien species. Despite some taxonomic and methodological issues which are still open, the data obtained confirm the important role of floristic investigations in the field and in herbaria, as well as the collaborative approach among botanists, in order to improve the knowledge of the Italian and European vascular flora. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Conservation of Vascular Flora)
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Article
Evolution of Beak and Feather Disease Virus across Three Decades of Conservation Intervention for Population Recovery of the Mauritius Parakeet
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 584; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13110584 - 16 Nov 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are key contributors to the current global biodiversity crisis. Psittaciformes (parrots) are one of the most vulnerable avian taxa and psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is the most common viral disease in wild parrots. PBFD is caused by [...] Read more.
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are key contributors to the current global biodiversity crisis. Psittaciformes (parrots) are one of the most vulnerable avian taxa and psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is the most common viral disease in wild parrots. PBFD is caused by the beak and feather disease virus (BFDV), which belongs to the Circoviridae family and comprises a circular, single-stranded DNA genome. BFDV is considered to have spread rapidly across the world and, in 2005, an outbreak of PBFD was documented in the recovering population of the Mauritius parakeet (Alexandrinus eques). The Mauritius parakeet was once the world’s rarest parrot and has been successfully recovered through 30 years of intensive conservation management. Molecular surveillance for the prevalence of BFDV was carried out across a 24-year sample archive spanning the period from 1993 to 2017, and DNA sequencing of positive individuals provided an opportunity to assess patterns of phylogenetic and haplotype diversity. Phylogenetic analyses show variation in the extent of viral diversification within the replicase protein (Rep). Timeseries of BFDV prevalence and number of haplotypes reveal that two subsequent waves of infection occurred in 2010/2011 and 2013/2014 following the initial outbreak in 2005. Continued disease surveillance to determine the frequency and intensity of subsequent waves of infection may benefit future translocation/reintroduction planning. The continued growth of the Mauritius parakeet population despite the presence of BFDV bodes well for its long-term persistence. Full article
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Article
Algae and Cyanobacteria Diversity and Bioindication of Long-Term Changes in the Hula Nature Reserve, Israel
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 583; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13110583 - 14 Nov 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Lake Hula, the core of one of the most extensive wetland complexes in the Eastern Mediterranean, was drained in 1951–1958. However, about 350 hectares of papyrus marshes were allocated in the southwestern part of the previous lake and became the Hula Nature Reserve [...] Read more.
Lake Hula, the core of one of the most extensive wetland complexes in the Eastern Mediterranean, was drained in 1951–1958. However, about 350 hectares of papyrus marshes were allocated in the southwestern part of the previous lake and became the Hula Nature Reserve status, the first of two wetlands in Israel included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The list of algae and cyanobacteria species of Lake Hula was compiled by us for the first time based on data from publications of 1938–1958, as well as our research in the Hula Nature Reserve, obtained within the framework of the monitoring program for 2007–2013. The list includes 225 species and intraspecies of algae and cyanobacteria belonging to eight phyla. The dynamics of the species richness of algae and cyanobacteria flora for 1938–2013 are shown. Species-bioindicators of water quality have been identified, and the change in their composition by ecological groups for a period of about a hundred years has been shown. Based on the species richness of algae communities, water quality indices were calculated with particular attention to changes in trophic status during the study period. The algae flora of Lake Hula and Hula Nature Reserve was found to be similar, but bioindication has revealed an increase in salinity and organic pollution in recent years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Organisms Diversity and Bio-Indication of Water Resources II)
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Article
The Natural Capital Value of the Seagrass Posidonia oceanica in the North-Western Mediterranean
Diversity 2021, 13(10), 499; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13100499 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Posidonia oceanica is an endemic Mediterranean seagrass used as a ‘biological quality element’ in monitoring programmes of the EU Water Framework Directive, providing information about coastal ecosystems status. The regression of P. oceanica meadows caused a growing interest among policy makers to assess [...] Read more.
Posidonia oceanica is an endemic Mediterranean seagrass used as a ‘biological quality element’ in monitoring programmes of the EU Water Framework Directive, providing information about coastal ecosystems status. The regression of P. oceanica meadows caused a growing interest among policy makers to assess the value of seagrasses and to increase their protection. An evaluation of P. oceanica meadows located in the Ligurian-Provençal basin (NW Mediterranean) through a biophysical approach is here developed. Six meadows located in Liguria (Italy) and Corsica (France) were investigated by applying the emergy analysis to assess the natural capital (NC) stocked by leaves and rhizomes components. Results highlighted the importance of carrying out an analysis of the variations in the NC value in both components: rhizomes defined the growth stage and the capacity to store NC over time; leaves provided information on the variability due to disturbances in the water column. Emergy analysis allows defining the NC, in terms of resources needed to maintain the meadows and to provide services to coastal communities. This research is inserted into the effort of incorporating the NC evaluation into marine planning and decision making to achieve nature conservation goals, while ensuring the sustainable exploitation of marine resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation in Mediterranean Sea)
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Article
FloCan—A Revised Checklist for the Flora of the Canary Islands
Diversity 2021, 13(10), 480; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13100480 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
The flora of the Canary Islands has been subject to botanical studies for more than 200 years. Several biodiversity databases are available for the archipelago. However, there are various drivers of change in real biodiversity and the knowledge about it constantly needs to [...] Read more.
The flora of the Canary Islands has been subject to botanical studies for more than 200 years. Several biodiversity databases are available for the archipelago. However, there are various drivers of change in real biodiversity and the knowledge about it constantly needs to be kept track of. Island floras are both: exposed to species loss and to species introductions, either through natural processes or by anthropogenic drivers. Additionally, the evolution of endemic plant species plays a substantial role. Endemic species are sensitive to population decline due to small population sizes and possible low competitiveness against incoming species. Additionally, there is continuous progress in systematics and taxonomy. Species names or their taxonomic attribution can be modified. Here, we check published plant lists for the Canary Islands and literature, and compile currently accepted taxa into an updated checklist. For this FloCan checklist, several sources were compiled, checked for completeness and quality, and their taxonomy was updated. We illustrate how far plant names are considered in regional or global databases. This work represents the current state of knowledge on Canary Island plant diversity, including introduced and recently described taxa. We provide a comprehensive and updated basis for biogeographical and macroecological studies. Particularly, the number of non-native species is being extended substantially. The adaptation to standard international nomenclature supports integration into large-scale studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2021 Feature Papers by Diversity’s Editorial Board Members)
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Article
Exploring Plant Functional Diversity and Redundancy of Mediterranean High-Mountain Habitats in the Apennines
Diversity 2021, 13(10), 466; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13100466 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
We analyzed plant functional diversity (FD) and redundancy (FR) in Mediterranean high-mountain communities to explore plant functional patterns and assembly rules. We focused on three above-ground plant traits: plant height (H), a good surrogate of competition for light strategies, and specific leaf area [...] Read more.
We analyzed plant functional diversity (FD) and redundancy (FR) in Mediterranean high-mountain communities to explore plant functional patterns and assembly rules. We focused on three above-ground plant traits: plant height (H), a good surrogate of competition for light strategies, and specific leaf area (SLA) and leaf dry matter content (LDMC), useful indicators of resource exploitation functional schemes. We used the georeferenced vegetation plots and field-measured plant functional traits of four widely spread vegetation types growing on screes, steep slopes, snowbeds and ridges, respectively. We calculated Rao’s FD and FR followed by analysis of standardized effect size, and compared FD and FR community values using ANOVA and the Tukey post hoc test. Assemblage rules varied across plant communities and traits. The High FRH registered on snowbeds and ridges is probably linked to climatic filtering processes, while the high FDH and low FDSLA and FDLDMC on steep slopes could be related with underlying competition mechanisms. The absence of FD patterns in scree vegetation pinpoint random assembly processes which are typical of highly unstable or disturbed ecosystems. Improved knowledge about the deterministic/stochastic processes shaping species coexistence on high mountain ecosystems should help researchers to understand and predict vegetation vulnerability to environmental changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity, Ecology and Conservation of Alpine Plants)
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Article
Concurrent Butterfly, Bat and Small Mammal Monitoring Programmes Using Citizen Science in Catalonia (NE Spain): A Historical Review and Future Directions
Diversity 2021, 13(9), 454; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13090454 - 21 Sep 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The Biodiversity and Bioindicators research group (BiBIO), based at the Natural Sciences Museum of Granollers, has coordinated four long-term faunal monitoring programmes based on citizen science over more than two decades in Catalonia (NE Spain). We summarize the historical progress of these programmes, [...] Read more.
The Biodiversity and Bioindicators research group (BiBIO), based at the Natural Sciences Museum of Granollers, has coordinated four long-term faunal monitoring programmes based on citizen science over more than two decades in Catalonia (NE Spain). We summarize the historical progress of these programmes, describing their main conservation outputs, the challenges overcome, and future directions. The Catalan Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (CBMS) consists of a network of nearly 200 recording sites where butterfly populations have been monitored through visual censuses along transects for nearly three decades. This programme provides accurate temporal and spatial changes in the abundance of butterflies and relates them to different environmental factors (e.g., habitat and weather conditions). The Bat Monitoring Programme has progressively evolved to include passive acoustic monitoring protocols, as well as bat box-, underground- and river-bat surveys, and community ecological indices have been developed to monitor bat responses at assemblage level to both landscape and climatic changes. The Monitoring of common small mammals in Spain (SEMICE), a common small mammal monitoring programme with almost 80 active live-trapping stations, provides information to estimate population trends and has underlined the relevance of small mammals as both prey (of several predators) and predators (of insect forest pests). The Dormouse Monitoring Programme represents the first monitoring programme in Europe using specific nest boxes for the edible dormouse, providing information about biological and demographic data of the species at the southern limit of its distribution range. The combination and complementarity of these monitoring programmes provide crucial data to land managers to improve the understanding of conservation needs and develop efficient protection laws. Full article
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Article
Taxonomy of the Cryptocephalus heraldicus Group (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae, Cryptocephalinae) from China
Diversity 2021, 13(9), 451; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13090451 - 20 Sep 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
This is a study on the leaf beetle subgenus Cryptocephalus Geoffroy, 1762 from China, with the particular emphasis upon the species-group classification of the subgenus and the taxonomy of the Cryptocephalus heraldicus species group. A new key is compiled to all the species [...] Read more.
This is a study on the leaf beetle subgenus Cryptocephalus Geoffroy, 1762 from China, with the particular emphasis upon the species-group classification of the subgenus and the taxonomy of the Cryptocephalus heraldicus species group. A new key is compiled to all the species groups found in China. Four new species are described from China: Cryptocephalus (Cryptocephalus) biordopunctatus sp. nov. from Yunnan, C. hani sp. nov. from Shanxi, Hubei, Shaanxi and Gansu, C. incisodentatus sp. nov. from Sichuan and Yunnan, and C. nigroflavusiventerus sp. nov. from Yunnan. Three species are found for the first time in China: C. lacosus Pic, 1922, C. nigriceps Allard, 1891 and C. rajah Jacoby, 1908. The species C. nigrolimbatus Jacoby, 1890 is transferred from the subgenus Burlinius Lopatin to this subgenus and assigned to the Cryptocephalus heraldicus group. The species number of this group is now 30 in total according to our result of taxonomic review. A key to all the mainland China species of this species group is provided as well as high quality color images and line drawings of adult habitus, aedeagus, and other important structures. All the types of the new species are deposited in the collection of Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IZ-CAS). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity and Evolution of Coleoptera)
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Article
The Role of Small Lowland Patches of Exotic Forests as Refuges of Rare Endemic Azorean Arthropods
Diversity 2021, 13(9), 443; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13090443 - 16 Sep 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Islands have been disproportionately affected by the current biodiversity crisis. In island biotas, one of the most recurrent anthropic alterations is species introduction. Invasion of exotic species may represent a major threat for island biotas, because invasive species may change species composition and [...] Read more.
Islands have been disproportionately affected by the current biodiversity crisis. In island biotas, one of the most recurrent anthropic alterations is species introduction. Invasion of exotic species may represent a major threat for island biotas, because invasive species may change species composition and simplify community dynamics. We investigated diversity patterns of native and introduced species in native and exotic forests of Terceira Island (Azores, Portugal) by using diversity profiles based on Hill numbers. Use of diversity profiles allows for a complete characterization of the community diversity because they combine information on species richness, rarity, and dominance. We found that native forest remnants are crucial for the maintenance of endemic Azorean arthropod diversity. However, we also found that some lowland patches of exotic forests can sustain populations of rare endemic species. Our findings reinforce the importance of the few and small remnants of native forests, which are a pillar to the conservation of Azorean endemic arthropods. However, areas occupied by exotic forests, whether they are large and contiguous or small and isolated, close to native forests, or embedded in a matrix of agriculture activities, can also play a role in the conservation of native species, including endemics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Evolution and Extinctions on Islands)
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Article
Harnessing the Power of Metabarcoding in the Ecological Interpretation of Plant-Pollinator DNA Data: Strategies and Consequences of Filtering Approaches
Diversity 2021, 13(9), 437; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13090437 - 10 Sep 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Although DNA metabarcoding of pollen mixtures has been increasingly used in the field of pollination biology, methodological and interpretation issues arise due to its high sensitivity. Filtering or maintaining false positives, contaminants, and rare taxa or molecular features could lead to different ecological [...] Read more.
Although DNA metabarcoding of pollen mixtures has been increasingly used in the field of pollination biology, methodological and interpretation issues arise due to its high sensitivity. Filtering or maintaining false positives, contaminants, and rare taxa or molecular features could lead to different ecological results. Here, we reviewed how this choice has been addressed in 43 studies featuring pollen DNA metabarcoding, which highlighted a very high heterogeneity of filtering methods. We assessed how these strategies shaped pollen assemblage composition, species richness, and interaction networks. To do so, we compared four processing methods: unfiltering, filtering with a proportional 1% of sample reads, a fixed threshold of 100 reads, and the ROC approach (Receiver Operator Characteristic). The results indicated that filtering impacted species composition and reduced species richness, with ROC emerging as a conservative approach. Moreover, in contrast to unfiltered networks, filtering decreased network Connectance and Entropy, and it increased Modularity and Connectivity, indicating that using cut-off thresholds better describes interactions. Overall, unfiltering might compromise reliable ecological interpretations, unless a study targets rare species. We discuss the suitability of each filtering type, plead for justifying filtering strategies on biological or methodological bases and for developing shared approaches to make future studies more comparable. Full article
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Article
Integrative Descriptions of Two New Tardigrade Species along with the New Record of Mesobiotus skorackii Kaczmarek et al., 2018 from Canada
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 394; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13080394 - 22 Aug 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Two new tardigrade species from a moss sample collected in Canada, one representing Macrobiotus hufelandi complex and the second one belonging to the genus Bryodelphax, are described. Integrative analysis was undertaken based on morphological and morphometric data (using both light and scanning [...] Read more.
Two new tardigrade species from a moss sample collected in Canada, one representing Macrobiotus hufelandi complex and the second one belonging to the genus Bryodelphax, are described. Integrative analysis was undertaken based on morphological and morphometric data (using both light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM)) combined with multilocus molecular analysis (nuclear sequences, i.e., 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA and ITS-2 as well as mitochondrial COI barcode sequences). Based on COI sequences, Macrobiotus birendrai sp. nov. is most similar to Mac. canaricus (p-distance 17%), whereas Bryodelphax mareki sp. nov. is most similar to Bry. parvulus (p-distance 16%). Both species differ also from their congeners in some morphological and morphometric characters of adults and/or details of egg chorion. Additionally, a large population of Mesobiotus skorackii was found in the sample and this is the first report of this species outside its terra typica in Kirghizia. The original description of this species was prepared based solely on the morphology and morphometry, therefore, here we provide updated data for this species enclosing morphometric and molecular data for the Canadian population. Full article
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Article
The Towakkalak System, A Hotspot of Subterranean Biodiversity in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 392; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13080392 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
The Towakkalak System located in the Maros karst of South Sulawesi is currently the richest of Southeast Asia in obligate subterranean species. It comprises several caves and shafts that give access to the subterranean Towakkalak river as well as many unconnected fossil caves, [...] Read more.
The Towakkalak System located in the Maros karst of South Sulawesi is currently the richest of Southeast Asia in obligate subterranean species. It comprises several caves and shafts that give access to the subterranean Towakkalak river as well as many unconnected fossil caves, stream sinks, and springs located within its footprint. The total length of the caves linked to the active system is 24,319 m and comprises two of the longest caves of Indonesia, Gua Salukkan Kallang and Gua Tanette. Studies of its fauna began in 1985. There are 10 stygobionts and 26 troglobionts that are known from the system. The smaller adjacent system of Saripa has 6 stygobionts and 18 troglobionts, of which 1 and 3, respectively, are absent from Towakkalak. Like all tropical cave inventories, our dataset has limits due to identification uncertainties, gaps in habitat (waters, guano) and taxonomic coverage (micro-crustaceans, mites), sampling methods (pitfall trapping, Karaman–Chappuis), and problems of ecological assignment. A number of additional species are therefore expected to be found in the future. The Towakkalak and Saripa cave systems are included in the Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park and are under efficient protection, but parts of the Maros karst outside the park are under serious threat, mainly from quarrying. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hotspots of Subterranean Biodiversity)
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Article
Applying Population Viability Analysis to Inform Genetic Rescue That Preserves Locally Unique Genetic Variation in a Critically Endangered Mammal
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 382; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13080382 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Genetic rescue can reduce the extinction risk of inbred populations, but it has the poorly understood risk of ‘genetic swamping’—the replacement of the distinctive variation of the target population. We applied population viability analysis (PVA) to identify translocation rates into the inbred lowland [...] Read more.
Genetic rescue can reduce the extinction risk of inbred populations, but it has the poorly understood risk of ‘genetic swamping’—the replacement of the distinctive variation of the target population. We applied population viability analysis (PVA) to identify translocation rates into the inbred lowland population of Leadbeater’s possum from an outbred highland population that would alleviate inbreeding depression and rapidly reach a target population size (N) while maximising the retention of locally unique neutral genetic variation. Using genomic kinship coefficients to model inbreeding in Vortex, we simulated genetic rescue scenarios that included gene pool mixing with genetically diverse highland possums and increased the N from 35 to 110 within ten years. The PVA predicted that the last remaining population of lowland Leadbeater’s possum will be extinct within 23 years without genetic rescue, and that the carrying capacity at its current range is insufficient to enable recovery, even with genetic rescue. Supplementation rates that rapidly increased population size resulted in higher retention (as opposed to complete loss) of local alleles through alleviation of genetic drift but reduced the frequency of locally unique alleles. Ongoing gene flow and a higher N will facilitate natural selection. Accordingly, we recommend founding a new population of lowland possums in a high-quality habitat, where population growth and natural gene exchange with highland populations are possible. We also recommend ensuring gene flow into the population through natural dispersal and/or frequent translocations of highland individuals. Genetic rescue should be implemented within an adaptive management framework, with post-translocation monitoring data incorporated into the models to make updated predictions. Full article
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Article
Mires in Europe—Regional Diversity, Condition and Protection
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 381; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13080381 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
In spite of the worldwide largest proportional loss of mires, Europe is a continent with important mire diversity. This article analyses the condition and protection status of European mire ecosystems. The overview is based on the system of European mire regions, representing regional [...] Read more.
In spite of the worldwide largest proportional loss of mires, Europe is a continent with important mire diversity. This article analyses the condition and protection status of European mire ecosystems. The overview is based on the system of European mire regions, representing regional variety and ecosystem biodiversity. We combined peatland distribution data with land cover maps of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service as well as with the World Database on Protected Areas to assess the extent of degraded peatlands and the proportion of peatlands located in protected areas in each European mire region. The total proportion of degraded peatlands in Europe is 25%; within the EU it is 50% (120,000 km2). The proportion of degradation clearly increases from north to south, as does the proportion of peatlands located within protected areas. In more than half of Europe’s mire regions, the target of at least 17% of the area located in protected areas is not met with respect to peatlands. Data quality is discussed and the lessons learned from Europe for peatland conservation are presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology, Biogeography and Evolutionary Biology of Peatlands)
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Article
Mammoth Cave: A Hotspot of Subterranean Biodiversity in the United States
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 373; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13080373 - 12 Aug 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The Mammoth Cave System in the Interior Low Plateau karst region in central Kentucky, USA is a global hotspot of cave-limited biodiversity, particularly terrestrial species. We searched the literature, museum accessions, and database records to compile an updated list of troglobiotic and stygobiotic [...] Read more.
The Mammoth Cave System in the Interior Low Plateau karst region in central Kentucky, USA is a global hotspot of cave-limited biodiversity, particularly terrestrial species. We searched the literature, museum accessions, and database records to compile an updated list of troglobiotic and stygobiotic species for the Mammoth Cave System and compare our list with previously published checklists. Our list of cave-limited fauna totals 49 species, with 32 troglobionts and 17 stygobionts. Seven species are endemic to the Mammoth Cave System and other small caves in Mammoth Cave National Park. The Mammoth Cave System is the type locality for 33 cave-limited species. The exceptional diversity at Mammoth Cave is likely related to several factors, such as the high dispersal potential of cave fauna associated with expansive karst exposures, high surface productivity, and a long history of exploration and study. Nearly 80% of the cave-limited fauna is of conservation concern, many of which are at an elevated risk of extinction because of small ranges, few occurrences, and several potential threats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hotspots of Subterranean Biodiversity)
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Article
The Arthropod Fauna of Oak (Quercus spp., Fagaceae) Canopies in Norway
Diversity 2021, 13(7), 332; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13070332 - 19 Jul 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
(1) We document the invertebrate fauna collected from 24 oak canopies in east and west Norway as a contribution to the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre’s ‘The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative’. (2) A snap-shot inventory of the canopies was recorded by means of emitting a [...] Read more.
(1) We document the invertebrate fauna collected from 24 oak canopies in east and west Norway as a contribution to the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre’s ‘The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative’. (2) A snap-shot inventory of the canopies was recorded by means of emitting a mist of natural pyrethrum into the canopies at night using a petrol-driven fogger and collecting the specimens in butterfly nets spread on the ground under the canopy. (3) Almost the entire catch of more than 6800 specimens was identified to 722 species. Out of 92 species new to the Norwegian fauna, 21 were new to science and, additionally, 15 were new to the Nordic fauna. Diptera alone constituted nearly half of the species represented, with 61 new records (18 new species). Additionally, 24 Hymenoptera (one new species), six oribatid mites (two new species) and one Thysanoptera were new to the Norwegian fauna. (4) Our study emphasizes the importance of the oak tree as a habitat both for a specific fauna and occasional visitors, and it demonstrates that the canopy fogging technique is an efficient way to find the ‘hidden fauna’ of Norwegian forests. The low number of red listed species found reflects how poor the Norwegian insect fauna is still studied. Moreover, the implication of the IUCN red list criteria for newly described or newly observed species is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arthropods Associated with Forest Soil and Wood)
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Article
Orchids of Mongolia: Taxonomy, Species Richness and Conservation Status
Diversity 2021, 13(7), 302; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13070302 - 02 Jul 2021
Cited by 7
Abstract
Orchidaceae is a diverse, globally important plant family with high conservation assessment and prioritization requirements. The checklist of Orchidaceae in Mongolia was updated based on herbarium materials, literature, and field observations. Mongolian orchids were revised as comprising 26 taxa belonging to 14 genera [...] Read more.
Orchidaceae is a diverse, globally important plant family with high conservation assessment and prioritization requirements. The checklist of Orchidaceae in Mongolia was updated based on herbarium materials, literature, and field observations. Mongolian orchids were revised as comprising 26 taxa belonging to 14 genera with major updates were conducted on Herminium and Epipactis. In particular, H. alaschanicum, previously noted in the Alashan Gobi region, was added to the flora of Mongolia based on literature and type specimens. Epipactis helleborine and E. palustris were excluded from the Mongolian flora owing to the absence of herbarium specimens and wild collection from Mongolia. Assessment of all orchid species at the national level resulted in 1, 4, 7, 11, and 2 species as critically endangered (CR), endangered (EN), vulnerable (VU), near threatened (NT), and data deficient (DD), respectively, according to IUCN criteria. Species richness and conservation gap analyses of 970 georeferenced orchid records based on 0.5° × 0.5° grid cells across 16 phytogeographical regions of Mongolia, showed that four phytogeographical regions, Khangai, Khuvgul, Khentii and Mongolian Dauria, have a high number of orchids. Regrettably, most orchid-rich locations in Mongolia are not fully within protected areas, highlighting the need for protection management updates. Based on herbarium collections, we prepared grid distribution maps of the 26 taxa using 40 × 40 km2 grids. Photographs of 18 taxa taken during fieldwork were included, providing valuable information on species morphology and typical habitat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Conservation of Vascular Flora)
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Article
Roadside Car Surveys: Methodological Constraints and Solutions for Estimating Parrot Abundances across the World
Diversity 2021, 13(7), 300; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13070300 - 01 Jul 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Parrots stand out among birds because of their poor conservation status and the lack of available information on their population sizes and trends. Estimating parrot abundance is complicated by the high mobility, gregariousness, patchy distributions, and rarity of many species. Roadside car surveys [...] Read more.
Parrots stand out among birds because of their poor conservation status and the lack of available information on their population sizes and trends. Estimating parrot abundance is complicated by the high mobility, gregariousness, patchy distributions, and rarity of many species. Roadside car surveys can be useful to cover large areas and increase the probability of detecting spatially aggregated species or those occurring at very low densities. However, such surveys may be biased due to their inability to handle differences in detectability among species and habitats. We conducted 98 roadside surveys, covering > 57,000 km across 20 countries and the main world biomes, recording ca. 120,000 parrots from 137 species. We found that larger and more gregarious species are more easily visually detected and at greater distances, with variations among biomes. However, raw estimates of relative parrot abundances (individuals/km) were strongly correlated (r = 0.86–0.93) with parrot densities (individuals/km2) estimated through distance sampling (DS) models, showing that variability in abundances among species (>40 orders of magnitude) overcomes any potential detectability bias. While both methods provide similar results, DS cannot be used to study parrot communities or monitor the population trends of all parrot species as it requires a minimum of encounters that are not reached for most species (64% in our case), mainly the rarest and more threatened. However, DS may be the most suitable choice for some species-specific studies of common species. We summarize the strengths and weaknesses of both methods to guide researchers in choosing the best–fitting option for their particular research hypotheses, characteristics of the species studied, and logistical constraints. Full article
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Spatial Distribution Patterns of Appendicularians in the Drake Passage: Potential Indicators of Water Masses?
Diversity 2021, 13(7), 286; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13070286 - 23 Jun 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Appendicularians are one of the most common animals found within zooplankton assemblages. They play a very important role as filter feeders but are, unfortunately, inconsistently reported in the Antarctic literature. The present paper attempts to describe the zonal diversity of appendicularians and the [...] Read more.
Appendicularians are one of the most common animals found within zooplankton assemblages. They play a very important role as filter feeders but are, unfortunately, inconsistently reported in the Antarctic literature. The present paper attempts to describe the zonal diversity of appendicularians and the main environmental factors influencing their communities in the Drake Passage. Samples were collected during Antarctic summer in 2009–2010. A total of eight species of larvaceans were identified. Fritillaria borealis was the species found in the highest numbers in almost the entire studied area, and was observed at all sampling stations. The distributions of other taxa were limited to specific hydrological zones and hydrological conditions. F. fraudax and Oikopleura gaussica were typical of the areas between the Polar Front and the Subantarctic Front zones, and their distributions were significantly correlated with temperature and salinity, likely making them good indicator species. The F. fusiformis distribution was strictly related to South American waters. In summary, temperature was the strongest environmental factor influencing the larvacean community structure in the Drake Passage, and we also found that testing environmental factors on larvaceans as a whole group did not give entirely reliable results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Marine Diversity)
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Article
Postojna-Planina Cave System in Slovenia, a Hotspot of Subterranean Biodiversity and a Cradle of Speleobiology
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 271; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13060271 - 15 Jun 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The Postojna-Planina Cave System (PPCS) in central Slovenia is a globally exceptional site of subterranean biodiversity, comprised of many interconnected caves with cumulative passage length exceeding 34 km. Two rivers sink into the caves of the PPCS, called the Pivka and Rak, and [...] Read more.
The Postojna-Planina Cave System (PPCS) in central Slovenia is a globally exceptional site of subterranean biodiversity, comprised of many interconnected caves with cumulative passage length exceeding 34 km. Two rivers sink into the caves of the PPCS, called the Pivka and Rak, and join underground into Unica River, which emerges to the surface. The studies of fauna of PPCS began in the 19th century with the first scientific descriptions of specialized cave animals in the world, making it “the cradle of speleobiology”. Currently, the species list of PPCS contains 116 troglobiotic animal species belonging to eight phyla, confirming its status as the richest in the world. Of these, 47 species have been scientifically described from the PPCS, and more than 10 await formal taxonomic descriptions. We expect that further sampling, detailed analyses of less studied taxa, and the use of molecular methods may reveal more species. To keep the cave animals’ checklist in PPCS up-to-date, we have supplemented the printed checklist with an online interface. As the revised checklist is a necessary first step for further activities, we discuss the importance of PPCS in terms of future research and conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hotspots of Subterranean Biodiversity)
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Article
Diversity of Testate Amoebae as an Indicator of the Conservation Status of Peatlands in Southwest Europe
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 269; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13060269 - 15 Jun 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Testate amoebae are one of the most studied groups of microorganisms in Sphagnum peatland ecosystems and, therefore, one of the most reliable bioindicators of their ecological status. Peatland ecosystems are supported by a delicate biogeochemical balance that leads to the formation of peat, [...] Read more.
Testate amoebae are one of the most studied groups of microorganisms in Sphagnum peatland ecosystems and, therefore, one of the most reliable bioindicators of their ecological status. Peatland ecosystems are supported by a delicate biogeochemical balance that leads to the formation of peat, one of the main sinks of C, as a result of soil–atmosphere interaction, but currently they are one of the most threatened wetland types at their southern distribution limit. In the European continent, where climatic conditions limit peat formation, they have endured significant anthropic pressure for centuries, and the risk of loss of biodiversity linked to these ecosystems is critical. In addition, peatlands are poorly known ecosystems in the Iberian Peninsula compared with other wetlands; therefore, we have studied the chemical parameters of water and the diversity patterns of testate amoebae in the western Iberian Peninsula to better understand the current status of these ecosystems. The analysis of testate amoeba communities showed an inverse relationship between the diversity and conservation status of these peatlands, both in relation to chemical parameters (i.e., pH, electrical conductivity, phosphates) and to the proportion of anthropized area, with a marked geographical pattern in the degree of anthropogenic disturbance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology, Biogeography and Evolutionary Biology of Peatlands)
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Article
Mediterranean Red Macro Algae Mats as Habitat for High Abundances of Serpulid Polychaetes
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 265; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13060265 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The Mediterranean Sea harbors more than 17,000 eukaryotic marine species, with several ecosystems recognized as biodiversity hotspots, such as Posidonia oceanica meadows. Recent research indicates that benthic mats formed by the fleshy red alga Phyllophora crispa are also associated with high species richness. [...] Read more.
The Mediterranean Sea harbors more than 17,000 eukaryotic marine species, with several ecosystems recognized as biodiversity hotspots, such as Posidonia oceanica meadows. Recent research indicates that benthic mats formed by the fleshy red alga Phyllophora crispa are also associated with high species richness. Among key groups found in these mats are sessile polychaetes, which live as epiphytes on the red algae thalli. Knowledge of abundance, species richness, and spatial variation of polychaetes associated with these habitats is still scarce. We carried out a comparative assessment focusing on serpulid polychaetes within samples from P. crispa mats and neighboring P. oceanica meadows at six different sampling sites around Giglio Island (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy). A total of 17 serpulid taxa were identified. The abundance of serpulids (5665 individuals m−2 of P. crispa mat) were similar to neighboring P. oceanica meadows (2304 individuals m−2 leaves and 5890 individuals m−2 shoots). The number of serpulid taxa was significantly higher in P. crispa mats (average 6.63 ± 1.32 taxa) compared to P. oceanica beds (average 1.56 ± 0.63 and 1.84 ± 1.04 taxa in leaves and shoots, respectively). Within habitat type, there were no significant differences in species richness between sites. The most abundant species found was Josephella marenzelleri (61% of individuals), while Vermiliopsis spp. and Bathyvermilia sp. were exclusively found in P. crispa samples. Our results highlight that P. crispa mats host an exceptional diversity and that these habitats should be included in conservation strategies. Further research should focus on the significance of other important taxonomic groups within these mats and evaluate the distribution of P. crispa in different regions of the Mediterranean Sea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation in Mediterranean Sea)
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Article
Seagrass and Oyster Reef Restoration in Living Shorelines: Effects of Habitat Configuration on Invertebrate Community Assembly
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 246; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13060246 - 04 Jun 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Restoration projects provide a valuable opportunity to experimentally establish foundational habitats in different combinations to test relative effects on community assembly. We evaluated the development of macroinvertebrate communities in response to planting of eelgrass (Zostera marina) and construction of reefs intended [...] Read more.
Restoration projects provide a valuable opportunity to experimentally establish foundational habitats in different combinations to test relative effects on community assembly. We evaluated the development of macroinvertebrate communities in response to planting of eelgrass (Zostera marina) and construction of reefs intended to support the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) in the San Francisco Estuary. Plots of each type, alone or interspersed, were established in 2012 in a pilot living shorelines project, and quarterly invertebrate monitoring was conducted for one year prior to restoration, and three years post-restoration using suction sampling and eelgrass shoot collection. Suction sampling revealed that within one year, oyster reefs supported unique invertebrate assemblages as compared to pre-restoration conditions and controls (unmanipulated mudflat). The eelgrass invertebrate assemblage also shifted, becoming intermediate between reefs and controls. Interspersing both types of habitat structure led eelgrass invertebrate communities to more closely resemble those of oyster reefs alone, though the eelgrass assemblage maintained some distinction (primarily by supporting gammarid and caprellid amphipods). Eelgrass shoot collection documented some additional taxa known to benefit eelgrass growth through consumption of epiphytic algae; however, even after three years, restored eelgrass did not establish an assemblage equivalent to natural beds, as the eelgrass sea hare (Phyllaplysia taylori) and eelgrass isopod (Pentidotea resecata) remained absent or very rare. We conclude that the restoration of two structurally complex habitat types within tens of meters maximized the variety of invertebrate assemblages supported, but that close interspersion dampened the separately contributed distinctiveness. In addition, management intervention may be needed to overcome the recruitment limitation of species with important roles in maintaining eelgrass habitat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in Seagrass Ecosystems)
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Article
Stygobiont Diversity in the San Marcos Artesian Well and Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Ecosystem, Texas, USA
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 234; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13060234 - 26 May 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
The Edwards Aquifer and related Edwards-Trinity Aquifer of Central Texas, USA, is a global hotspot of stygobiont biodiversity. We summarize 125 years of biological investigation at the San Marcos Artesian Well (SMAW), the best studied and most biodiverse groundwater site (55 stygobiont taxa: [...] Read more.
The Edwards Aquifer and related Edwards-Trinity Aquifer of Central Texas, USA, is a global hotspot of stygobiont biodiversity. We summarize 125 years of biological investigation at the San Marcos Artesian Well (SMAW), the best studied and most biodiverse groundwater site (55 stygobiont taxa: 39 described and 16 undescribed) within the Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Ecosystem. Cluster analysis and redundancy analysis (RDA) incorporating temporally derived, distance-based Moran’s Eigenvector Mapping (dbMem) illustrate temporal dynamics in community composition in 85 high-frequency samples from the SMAW. Although hydraulic variability related to precipitation and discharge partially explained changes in community composition at the SMAW, a large amount of temporal autocorrelation between samples remains unexplained. We summarize potential mechanisms by which hydraulic changes can affect community structure in deep, phreatic karst aquifers. We also compile information on 12 other Edwards and Edwards-Trinity Aquifer sites with 10 or more documented stygobionts and used distance-based RDA to assess the relative influences of distance and site type on three measures of β-diversity. Distance between sites was the most important predictor of total dissimilarity and replacement, although site type was also important. Species richness difference was not predicted by either distance or site type. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hotspots of Subterranean Biodiversity)
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Article
Multivariate Abundance Analysis of Multi-Host/Multi-Parasite Lungworms in a Sympatric Wild Ruminant Population
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 227; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13060227 - 23 May 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
In the analysis of a multi-host/multi-parasite system and its associated risk factors, it is particularly interesting to understand the natural dynamics among pathogens, their hosts, and the environment in wildlife populations. This analysis is particularly feasible in a scenario where multiple overlapping host [...] Read more.
In the analysis of a multi-host/multi-parasite system and its associated risk factors, it is particularly interesting to understand the natural dynamics among pathogens, their hosts, and the environment in wildlife populations. This analysis is particularly feasible in a scenario where multiple overlapping host populations are present in high densities, along with a complex community of parasites. We aimed to describe and analyze the naturally occurring lungworm polyparasitism in a wild ruminant community in Southeast Spain. The respiratory tracts of 250 specimens belonging to four different species (red deer, mouflon, Iberian ibex, and fallow deer) were studied. Almost half (48.0%) of the animals were infected with bronchopulmonary nematodes. Seven different nematodes were identified of which two genera (Protostrongylus spp. and Dictyocaulus spp.) and three additional species (Cystocaulus ocreatus, Muellerius capillaris, and Neostrongylus linearis) were recorded in at least two ruminants, with the mouflon as the commonest host. Our study shows a significant effect of host species and sampling area, plus a marginal effect of age, on parasite multivariate abundance at the host population level. Mouflon and adults of all hosts appear to carry the highest parasite load on average. From a spatial perspective, the highest parasite abundance was detected at the central part of the park. Full article
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Article
Unravelling the Symbiotic Microalgal Diversity in Buellia zoharyi (Lichenized Ascomycota) from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands Using DNA Metabarcoding
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 220; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13060220 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Buellia zoharyi is a crustose placodioid lichen, usually occurring on biocrusts of semiarid ecosystems in circum-Mediterranean/Macaronesian areas. In previous work, we found that this lichenized fungus was flexible in its phycobiont choice in the Canary Islands. Here we test whether geography and habitat [...] Read more.
Buellia zoharyi is a crustose placodioid lichen, usually occurring on biocrusts of semiarid ecosystems in circum-Mediterranean/Macaronesian areas. In previous work, we found that this lichenized fungus was flexible in its phycobiont choice in the Canary Islands. Here we test whether geography and habitat influence phycobiont diversity in populations of this lichen from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands using Sanger and high throughput sequencing (HTS). Additionally, three thallus section categories (central, middle and periphery) were analyzed to explore diversity of microalgal communities in each part. We found that B. zoharyi populations hosted at least three different Trebouxia spp., and this lichen can associate with distinct phycobiont strains in different habitats and geographic regions. This study also revealed that the Trebouxia composition of this lichen showed significant differences when comparing the Iberian Peninsula with the Balearics thalli. No support for differences in microalgal communities was found among thallus sections; however, several thalli showed different predominant Trebouxia spp. at each section. This result corroborate that thallus parts selected for DNA extraction in metabarcoding analyses are key to not bias the total phycobiont diversity detected. This study highlights that inclusion of HTS analysis is crucial to understand lichen symbiotic microalgal diversity. Full article
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Article
Not the Cryptic Species: Diversity of Hipposideros gentilis (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) in Indochina
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 218; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13050218 - 19 May 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
We present here the result of phylogenetic analysis for Vietnamese Hipposideros gentilis specimens using 7 nuclear genes and one mitochondrial gene. The complex distribution of divergent mitochondrial DNA lineages contradicts, at least in part, nuclear and morphological data. The most likely explanation [...] Read more.
We present here the result of phylogenetic analysis for Vietnamese Hipposideros gentilis specimens using 7 nuclear genes and one mitochondrial gene. The complex distribution of divergent mitochondrial DNA lineages contradicts, at least in part, nuclear and morphological data. The most likely explanation for this discordance is the historical hybridization between ancestral populations of H. gentilis and H. rotalis/H. khaokhouayensis. Our data supports the species status of H. gentilis, while only partially corroborating its previously proposed subspecies delimitation. We suggest the lowland forest populations from south Vietnam may correspond to their own subspecies. At the same time, the close phylogenetic relationship and morphological similarity of mountain forms from south and central Vietnam to the north Vietnamese populations make doubtful the subspecies status of H. gentilis sinensis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity Aspects in Bats: Genetics, Morphology, Community Structure)
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Burrowing Parrots Cyanoliseus patagonus as Long-Distance Seed Dispersers of Keystone Algarrobos, Genus Prosopis, in the Monte Desert
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 204; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13050204 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning requires detailed knowledge about plant–animal interactions, especially when keystone species are involved. The recent consideration of parrots as legitimate seed dispersers has widened the range of mechanisms influencing the life cycle of many plant species. We examined [...] Read more.
Understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning requires detailed knowledge about plant–animal interactions, especially when keystone species are involved. The recent consideration of parrots as legitimate seed dispersers has widened the range of mechanisms influencing the life cycle of many plant species. We examined the interactions between the burrowing parrot Cyanoliseus patagonus and two dominant algarrobo trees (Prosopis alba and Prosopis nigra) in the Monte Desert, Argentina. We recorded the abundance and foraging behaviour of parrots; quantified the handling, consumption, wasting, and dispersal of ripe and unripe pods; and tested the viability of soft and hard ripe seeds wasted and transported by parrots. We found a high abundance of burrowing parrots. They predated on soft seeds from unripe pods while exclusively feeding upon pulp wrapping hard seeds from ripe pods. Frequent pod wasting beneath the plant or transport at a distance invariably implied the dispersal of multiple seeds in each event. Moreover, soft seeds retained viability after desiccation outside the mother plant, suggesting effective seed dispersal after partial pod predation due to a predator satiation effect. In about half of the foraging flocks, at least one parrot departed in flight with pods in its beak, with 10–34% of the flock components moving pods at distances averaging 238 m (P. alba) and 418 m (P. nigra). A snapshot sampling of faeces from livestock and wild mammals suggested a low frequency of seed dispersal by endozoochory and secondary dispersal by ants and dung beetles. The nomadic movements and long flights of burrowing parrots between breeding and foraging sites can lead to the dispersal of huge amounts of seeds across large areas that are sequentially exploited. Further research should evaluate the role of the burrowing parrot as a functionally unique species in the structure of the Monte Desert woods and the genetic structure of algarrobo species. Full article
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Reusing Old and Producing New Data Is Useful for Species Delimitation in the Taxonomically Controversial Iberian Endemic Pair Petrocoptis montsicciana/P. pardoi (Caryophyllaceae)
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 205; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13050205 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Petrocoptis montsicciana and P. pardoi are two Iberian endemic taxa of Caryophyllaceae family with an unclear taxonomic delimitation, being variously treated as independent species, subspecies or even synonyms. In the present study, allozyme raw data obtained in the early 2000s have been reused [...] Read more.
Petrocoptis montsicciana and P. pardoi are two Iberian endemic taxa of Caryophyllaceae family with an unclear taxonomic delimitation, being variously treated as independent species, subspecies or even synonyms. In the present study, allozyme raw data obtained in the early 2000s have been reused with improved tools to survey genetic structure, and complemented with modeling and niche comparative analyses to shed light on species delimitation. Genetic structure was investigated using four approaches: Bayesian clustering, Monmonier’s algorithm, Principal Coordinate Analysis (PCoA), and Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA). Ecological niche differences have been assessed through Ecological Niche Modeling (ENM) using MaxEnt, and Principal Component Analysis using both occurrence records and background climate (PCA-env). Genetic analysis confirms the distinction between both taxa, and the scenario of a progenitor–derivative (P–D) is suggested. In agreement with genetic data, niche analysis shows clear differences between their climate regarding species occurrences and background spaces. Climate divergence could be explained, at least partially, by the abundance of rocks where species live although differences at the microclimate instead of the regional climate should be explored in future research. Given the genetic distinction between P. montsicciana and P. pardoi, both taxa should be regarded as separate ‘Management Units’ (MUs). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Genetics and Biogeography of Seed Plant Species)
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Diversity of Pod Shape in Pisum
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 203; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13050203 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
The seed-containing pod is the defining structure of plants in the legume family, yet pods exhibit a wide range of morphological variation. Within a species pod characters are likely to be correlated with reproductive strategy, and within cultivated forms will correspond to aspects [...] Read more.
The seed-containing pod is the defining structure of plants in the legume family, yet pods exhibit a wide range of morphological variation. Within a species pod characters are likely to be correlated with reproductive strategy, and within cultivated forms will correspond to aspects of yield determination and/or end use. Here variation in pod size, described as pod length: pod width ratio, has been analyzed in pea germplasm represented by 597 accessions. This pod size variation is discussed with respect to population structure and to known classical pod morphology mutants. Variability of the pod length: width ratio can be explained by allelic variation at two genetic loci that may correspond to organ-specific negative regulators of growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Legume Evolution and Diversity)
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Article
Mining Sorghum Biodiversity—Potential of Dual-Purpose Hybrids for Bio-Economy
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 192; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13050192 - 29 Apr 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
Sweet, grain, and dual-purpose sorghums differ in a number of important traits, including biomass production, total solutes in the stem juice, and sugar accumulation across the stem. Ten dual-purpose hybrids, two sweet genotypes, and two grain landraces of sorghums were characterized under temperate [...] Read more.
Sweet, grain, and dual-purpose sorghums differ in a number of important traits, including biomass production, total solutes in the stem juice, and sugar accumulation across the stem. Ten dual-purpose hybrids, two sweet genotypes, and two grain landraces of sorghums were characterized under temperate environmental conditions to determine their potential for bioethanol production. Five sorghum hybrids (Ganymed, Hannibal, Tarzan, Merlin, and Zerberus) performed better with respect to cane yield, juice yield, potential sugar, and ethanol yields compared to sweet and grain genotypes. While the sweet genotype KIT1 produced the highest sugar concentration in the stem, the lowest concentration was produced by the grain landrace Razinieh. The study showed that plant height, leaf number, leaf weight, cane yield, and juice yield were positively correlated with the sugar yield in fresh stalk. Sugar accumulation was higher in the central internodes of all genotypes. Clustering analysis showed that sweet genotypes are located more closely to dual-purpose hybrids than grain landraces. We discuss the results with respect to the potential of dual-purpose sorghum hybrids for bio-economy in Germany. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Plant Diversity)
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Karstic Landscapes Are Foci of Species Diversity in the World’s Third-Largest Vertebrate Genus Cyrtodactylus Gray, 1827 (Reptilia: Squamata; Gekkonidae)
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 183; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13050183 - 28 Apr 2021
Cited by 14
Abstract
Karstic landscapes are immense reservoirs of biodiversity and range-restricted endemism. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world’s third-largest vertebrate genus Cyrtodactylus (Gekkonidae) which contains well over 300 species. A stochastic character mapping analysis of 10 different habitat preferences across a phylogeny [...] Read more.
Karstic landscapes are immense reservoirs of biodiversity and range-restricted endemism. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world’s third-largest vertebrate genus Cyrtodactylus (Gekkonidae) which contains well over 300 species. A stochastic character mapping analysis of 10 different habitat preferences across a phylogeny containing 344 described and undescribed species recovered a karst habitat preference occurring in 25.0% of the species, whereas that of the other eight specific habitat preferences occurred in only 0.2–11.0% of the species. The tenth category—general habitat preference—occurred in 38.7% of the species and was the ancestral habitat preference for Cyrtodactylus and the ultimate origin of all other habitat preferences. This study echoes the results of a previous study illustrating that karstic landscapes are generators of species diversity within Cyrtodactylus and not simply “imperiled arks of biodiversity” serving as refugia for relics. Unfortunately, the immense financial returns of mineral extraction to developing nations largely outweighs concerns for biodiversity conservation, leaving approximately 99% of karstic landscapes with no legal protection. This study continues to underscore the urgent need for their appropriate management and conservation. Additionally, this analysis supports the monophyly of the recently proposed 31 species groups and adds one additional species group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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Article
Differing Life-History Strategies of Two Mycoheterotrophic Orchid Species Associated with Leaf Litter- and Wood-Decaying Fungi
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 161; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13040161 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
Mycoheterotrophic orchids depend completely on mycorrhizal fungi for their supply of carbon. The life-history traits of mycoheterotrophic plants (MHPs) can differ according to the characteristics of the associated mycorrhizal fungi. We compared the life-history strategies of two mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with wood- and [...] Read more.
Mycoheterotrophic orchids depend completely on mycorrhizal fungi for their supply of carbon. The life-history traits of mycoheterotrophic plants (MHPs) can differ according to the characteristics of the associated mycorrhizal fungi. We compared the life-history strategies of two mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with wood- and leaf litter-decaying fungi over a maximum of six years of field monitoring. Seventy percent of the aboveground stems of Erythrorchis altissima, associated with wood-decaying fungi, disappeared from the host wood within two years after tagging, likely due to nutrient depletion. In contrast, Gastrodia confusa, associated with leaf litter-decaying fungi, occurred continuously (18 to 108 fruiting stalks) every year within a small-scale plot (12 × 45 m) for six years through seed and clonal propagation. Our results support the idea that mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with wood-decaying fungi disappear from their habitats due to nutrient depletion after their host wood has mostly decayed, while mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with leaf litter-decaying fungi can survive in small-scale habitats where substantial leaf fall regularly occurs to sustain the associated fungi. Our study provides basic information about a unique life-history strategy in MHPs associated with saprotrophic fungi and an understanding of the variation in life-history strategies among MHPs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecology and Diversity of Orchids)
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Article
Habitat Partitioning and Overlap by Large Lacertid Lizards in Southern Europe
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 155; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13040155 - 04 Apr 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
South-western Europe has a rich diversity of lacertid lizards. In this study, we evaluated the occupancy patterns and niche segregation of five species of lacertids, focusing on large-bodied species (i.e., adults having >75 mm snout-vent length) that occur in south-western Europe (Italian to [...] Read more.
South-western Europe has a rich diversity of lacertid lizards. In this study, we evaluated the occupancy patterns and niche segregation of five species of lacertids, focusing on large-bodied species (i.e., adults having >75 mm snout-vent length) that occur in south-western Europe (Italian to the Iberian Peninsula). We characterized the niches occupied by these species based on climate and vegetation cover properties. We expected some commonality among phylogenetically related species, but also patterns of habitat segregation mitigating competition between ecologically equivalent species. We used multivariate ordination and probabilistic methods to describe the occupancy patterns and evaluated niche evolution through phylogenetic analyses. Our results showed climate niche partitioning, but with a wide overlap in transitional zones, where segregation is maintained by species-specific responses to the vegetation cover. The analyses also showed that phylogenetically related species tend to share large parts of their habitat niches. The occurrence of independent evolutionary lineages contributed to the regional species richness favored by a long history of niche divergence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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Article
Conservation Genetics of Four Critically Endangered Greek Endemic Plants: A Preliminary Assessment
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 152; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13040152 - 31 Mar 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
The Mediterranean basin constitutes one of the largest global biodiversity hotspots, hosting more than 11,000 endemic plants, and it is recognised as an area with a high proportion of threatened taxa. Nevertheless, only a tiny fraction of the threatened Mediterranean endemics have their [...] Read more.
The Mediterranean basin constitutes one of the largest global biodiversity hotspots, hosting more than 11,000 endemic plants, and it is recognised as an area with a high proportion of threatened taxa. Nevertheless, only a tiny fraction of the threatened Mediterranean endemics have their genetic diversity assessed, and we are unaware if and how climate change might impact their conservation status. This is even more pronounced in Eastern Mediterranean countries with a rich endemic flora, such as Greece, which hosts a large portion of the plant taxa assessed at the European level under the IUCN criteria. Using inter simple sequence repeats (ISSR) markers and species distribution models, we analysed the genetic diversity and investigated the impacts of climate change on four critically endangered and extremely narrow and rare Greek island endemic plants, namely Aethionema retsina, Allium iatrouinum, Convolvulus argyrothamnos, and Saponaria jagelii. All four species are facing intense anthropogenic threats and display moderate genetic diversity (uHe: 0.254–0.322), while climate change is expected to have a profound impact on their range size during the coming decades. A combination of in- and ex-situ measures, such as population reinforcement and seed bank conservation, are urgently needed in order to preserve these highly threatened and rare Greek endemics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Genetics and Biogeography of Seed Plant Species)
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Article
Common Vole as a Focal Small Mammal Species in Orchards of the Northern Zone
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 134; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030134 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
In 2018–2020, we performed a country-wide study of small mammals in commercial orchards and berry plantations with the aim of determining whether the common vole (Microtus arvalis) is a more suitable focal species than the field vole (M. agrestis) [...] Read more.
In 2018–2020, we performed a country-wide study of small mammals in commercial orchards and berry plantations with the aim of determining whether the common vole (Microtus arvalis) is a more suitable focal species than the field vole (M. agrestis) in the risk assessment of plant protection products in Lithuania (country of the Northern Zone). Common vole was present in 75% of orchards and in 80% of control habitats, accounting for 30% of all trapped individuals. The proportion of this species was stable between years and seasons. The pattern was in agreement with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, i.e., highest in medium-aged crops, while lowest in habitats with high intensities of agricultural practices. The average relative abundance of common vole in autumn, 2.65 ± 0.52 individuals per 100 trap days, was three times higher than that in summer, with no differences recorded between crops and control habitats. Field vole was present in 30% of locations, only accounting for 2.1% of all trapped individuals. In central and eastern European countries, common vole is more widespread and abundant than field vole. In Lithuania, common vole dominates in orchards and natural habitats and is, therefore, the most relevant small mammal species for higher tier risk assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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Article
Animal Forest Mortality: Following the Consequences of a Gorgonian Coral Loss on a Mediterranean Coralligenous Assemblage
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 133; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030133 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
In this work, the consequences of a local gorgonian coral mortality on the whole coralligenous assemblage were studied. A Before/After-Control/Impact sampling design was used: the structure of the coralligenous assemblage was compared before and after the gorgonian mortality event at the mortality site [...] Read more.
In this work, the consequences of a local gorgonian coral mortality on the whole coralligenous assemblage were studied. A Before/After-Control/Impact sampling design was used: the structure of the coralligenous assemblage was compared before and after the gorgonian mortality event at the mortality site and two control sites. At the mortality site, a relevant decrease in alpha and beta diversity occurred, with a shift from a stratified assemblage characterized by gorgonians and other invertebrates to an assemblage dominated by algal turfs; conversely, neither significant variations of the structure nor decrease in biodiversity were observed at the control sites. The assemblage shift involved the main taxa in different times: in autumn 2018, a large proportion of the plexaurid coral Paramuricea clavata died, but no significant changes were observed in the structure of the remaining assemblage. Then, in autumn 2019, algal turfs increased significantly and, one year later, the abundance of the gorgonian Eunicella cavolini and bryozoans collapsed. Although the mechanisms of the assemblage shift following gorgonian loss will remain uncertain and a cause-effect relationship cannot be derived, results suggest the need for detecting signs of gorgonian forests stress in monitoring programs, which should be considered early indicators of their condition. in the coralligenous monitoring programs for detecting any sign of gorgonian forests stress which should be considered an early indicator of the assemblage condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation in Mediterranean Sea)
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Article
Endocranial Anatomy of the Giant Extinct Australian Mihirung Birds (Aves, Dromornithidae)
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 124; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030124 - 15 Mar 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
Dromornithids are an extinct group of large flightless birds from the Cenozoic of Australia. Their record extends from the Eocene to the late Pleistocene. Four genera and eight species are currently recognised, with diversity highest in the Miocene. Dromornithids were once considered ratites, [...] Read more.
Dromornithids are an extinct group of large flightless birds from the Cenozoic of Australia. Their record extends from the Eocene to the late Pleistocene. Four genera and eight species are currently recognised, with diversity highest in the Miocene. Dromornithids were once considered ratites, but since the discovery of cranial elements, phylogenetic analyses have placed them near the base of the anseriforms or, most recently, resolved them as stem galliforms. In this study, we use morphometric methods to comprehensively describe dromornithid endocranial morphology for the first time, comparing Ilbandornis woodburnei and three species of Dromornis to one another and to four species of extant basal galloanseres. We reveal that major endocranial reconfiguration was associated with cranial foreshortening in a temporal series along the Dromornis lineage. Five key differences are evident between the brain morphology of Ilbandornis and Dromornis, relating to the medial wulst, the ventral eminence of the caudoventral telencephalon, and morphology of the metencephalon (cerebellum + pons). Additionally, dromornithid brains display distinctive dorsal (rostral position of the wulst), and ventral morphology (form of the maxillomandibular [V2+V3], glossopharyngeal [IX], and vagus [X] cranial nerves), supporting hypotheses that dromornithids are more closely related to basal galliforms than anseriforms. Functional interpretations suggest that dromornithids were specialised herbivores that likely possessed well-developed stereoscopic depth perception, were diurnal and targeted a soft browse trophic niche. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution and Palaeobiology of Flightless Birds)
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Article
Increasing Survival of Wild Macaw Chicks Using Foster Parents and Supplemental Feeding
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 121; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030121 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The use of foster parents has great potential to help the recovery of highly endangered bird species. However, few studies have shown how to successfully use these techniques in wild populations. Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao macao) in Perú hatch 2–4 chicks [...] Read more.
The use of foster parents has great potential to help the recovery of highly endangered bird species. However, few studies have shown how to successfully use these techniques in wild populations. Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao macao) in Perú hatch 2–4 chicks per nest but about 24% of all chicks die of starvation and on average just 1.4 of them fledge per successful nest. In this study we develop and test new techniques to increase survival of wild Scarlet Macaw chicks by reducing chick starvation. We hypothesized that using foster parents would increase the survival of chicks at risk of starvation and increase overall reproductive success. Our results show that all relocated macaw chicks were successfully accepted by their foster parents (n = 28 chicks over 3 consecutive breeding seasons) and 89% of the relocated chicks fledged. Overall, we increased fledging success per available nest from 17% (2000 to 2016 average) to 25% (2017 to 2019) and decreased chick death by starvation from 19% to 4%. These findings show that the macaw foster parents technique and post relocation supplemental feeding provide a promising management tool to aid wild parrot population recovery in areas with low reproductive success. Full article
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Article
Long-Term Monitoring Reveals Differential Responses of Mussel and Host Fish Communities in a Biodiversity Hotspot
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 122; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030122 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Biodiversity hotspots can serve as protected areas that aid in species conservation. Long-term monitoring of multiple taxonomic groups within biodiversity hotspots can offer insight into factors influencing their dynamics. Mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and fish are highly diverse and imperiled groups of organisms with [...] Read more.
Biodiversity hotspots can serve as protected areas that aid in species conservation. Long-term monitoring of multiple taxonomic groups within biodiversity hotspots can offer insight into factors influencing their dynamics. Mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and fish are highly diverse and imperiled groups of organisms with contrasting life histories that should influence their response to ecological factors associated with local and global change. Here we use historical and contemporary fish and mussel survey data to assess fish and mussel community changes over a 33 year period (1986–2019) and relationships between mussel abundance and their host fish abundance in Bogue Chitto Creek, a tributary of the Alabama River and a biodiversity hotspot. Mussel abundance declined by ~80% and community composition shifted, with eight species previously recorded not found in 2019, and a single individual of the endangered Pleurobema decisum. Fish abundances increased and life history strategies in the community appeared stable and there was no apparent relationship between mussel declines and abundance of host fish. Temporal variation in the proportion of life history traits composing mussel assemblages was also indicative of the disturbances specifically affecting the mussel community. However, changes and declines in mussel assemblages in Bogue Chitto Creek cannot be firmly attributed to any specific factor or events because of gaps in historical environmental and biological data. We believe that mobility differences contributed to differential responses of fish and mussel communities to stressors including habitat degradation, recent droughts and invasive species. Overall, our work indicates that monitoring biodiversity hotspots using hydrological measurements, standardized survey methods and monitoring invasive species abundance would better identify the effects of multiple and interactive stressors that impact disparate taxonomic groups in freshwater ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Mollusk Conservation)
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Article
Diversity of Dominant Soil Bacteria Increases with Warming Velocity at the Global Scale
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 120; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030120 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Understanding global soil bacterial diversity is important because of its role in maintaining a healthy global ecosystem. Given the effects of environmental changes (e.g., warming and human impact) on the diversity of animals and plants, effects on soil bacterial diversity are expected; however, [...] Read more.
Understanding global soil bacterial diversity is important because of its role in maintaining a healthy global ecosystem. Given the effects of environmental changes (e.g., warming and human impact) on the diversity of animals and plants, effects on soil bacterial diversity are expected; however, they have been poorly evaluated at the global scale to date. Thus, in this study, we focused on the dominant soil bacteria, which are likely critical drivers of key soil processes worldwide, and investigated the effects of warming velocity and human activities on their diversity. Using a global dataset of bacteria, we performed spatial analysis to evaluate the effects of warming velocity and human activities, while statistically controlling for the potentially confounding effects of current climate and geographic parameters with global climate and geographic data. We demonstrated that the diversity of the dominant soil bacteria was influenced globally, not only by the aridity index (dryness) and pH but also by warming velocity from the Last Glacial Maximum (21,000 years ago) to the present, showing significant increases. The increase in bacterial diversity with warming velocity was particularly significant in forests and grasslands. An effect of human activity was also observed, but it was secondary to warming velocity. These findings provide robust evidence and advance our understanding of the effects of environmental changes (particularly global warming) on soil bacterial diversity at the global scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Diversity and Culture Collections)
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Article
Prevalence and Diversity of Avian Haemosporidians May Vary with Anthropogenic Disturbance in Tropical Habitats in Myanmar
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 111; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030111 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Avian malaria and related haemosporidians (genera Haemoproteus, Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon) infect most clades of bird. Although these parasites are present in almost all continents, they have been irregularly studied across different geographical regions. Despite the high bird diversity in Asia, the [...] Read more.
Avian malaria and related haemosporidians (genera Haemoproteus, Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon) infect most clades of bird. Although these parasites are present in almost all continents, they have been irregularly studied across different geographical regions. Despite the high bird diversity in Asia, the diversity of avian haemosporidians in this region is largely unknown. Moreover, anthropogenic changes to habitats in tropical regions may have a profound impact on the overall composition of haemosporidian communities. Here we analyzed the diversity and host association of bird haemosporidians from areas with different degrees of anthropogenic disturbance in Myanmar, revealing an unexplored diversity of these parasites (27% of newly-discovered haemosporidian lineages, and 64% of new records of host–parasite assemblages) in these tropical environments. This newly discovered diversity will be valuable for detecting host range and transmission areas of haemosporidian parasites. We also found slightly higher haemosporidian prevalence and diversity in birds from paddy fields than in individuals from urban areas and hills, thus implying that human alteration of natural environments may affect the dynamics of vector-borne diseases. These outcomes provide valuable insights for biodiversity conservation management in threatened tropical ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bird Parasites)
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Article
Origins of Six Species of Butterflies Migrating through Northeastern Mexico: New Insights from Stable Isotope (δ2H) Analyses and a Call for Documenting Butterfly Migrations
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 102; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13030102 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Determining migratory connectivity within and among diverse taxa is crucial to their conservation. Insect migrations involve millions of individuals and are often spectacular. However, in general, virtually nothing is known about their structure. With anthropogenically induced global change, we risk losing most of [...] Read more.
Determining migratory connectivity within and among diverse taxa is crucial to their conservation. Insect migrations involve millions of individuals and are often spectacular. However, in general, virtually nothing is known about their structure. With anthropogenically induced global change, we risk losing most of these migrations before they are even described. We used stable hydrogen isotope (δ2H) measurements of wings of seven species of butterflies (Libytheana carinenta, Danaus gilippus, Phoebis sennae, Asterocampa leilia, Euptoieta claudia, Euptoieta hegesia, and Zerene cesonia) salvaged as roadkill when migrating in fall through a narrow bottleneck in northeast Mexico. These data were used to depict the probabilistic origins in North America of six species, excluding the largely local E. hegesia. We determined evidence for long-distance migration in four species (L. carinenta, E. claudia, D. glippus, Z. cesonia) and present evidence for panmixia (Z. cesonia), chain (Libytheana carinenta), and leapfrog (Danaus gilippus) migrations in three species. Our investigation underlines the utility of the stable isotope approach to quickly establish migratory origins and connectivity in butterflies and other insect taxa, especially if they can be sampled at migratory bottlenecks. We make the case for a concerted effort to atlas butterfly migrations using the stable isotope approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Stable Isotope Ecology)
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Article
The Diverse Assemblage of Fungal Endophytes from Orchids in Madagascar Linked to Abiotic Factors and Seasonality
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 96; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13020096 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The inselbergs of the Central Highlands of Madagascar are one of many ‘micro-hotspots’ of biodiversity on the island, particularly for Orchidaceae. In this region are several genera that have a large number of endemic species that are in serious decline or edging towards [...] Read more.
The inselbergs of the Central Highlands of Madagascar are one of many ‘micro-hotspots’ of biodiversity on the island, particularly for Orchidaceae. In this region are several genera that have a large number of endemic species that are in serious decline or edging towards extinction. Studies relating to diversity of orchids and their fungal partners (both mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal root associates) deserve more attention, as climate change and human induced decline in resilience of species in the wild is at an all-time high. Identification of mycorrhizal fungi (MF) via conventional seed baited-protocorms has limitations for large scale studies and its application for time-bound conservation projects. The paper describes the value of understanding fungal diversity in the roots of orchids at different stages of maturity. The first part of the study was a preliminary investigation mainly to identify culturable Rhizoctonia endophytes, and the second part looked at all life forms of available taxa together with associated soil characteristics. We isolated and identified 19 putative MF from 18 of the 50 taxa spread over an area of 250 sq. km, covering three life forms, growth phases of the orchid taxa, and habitat types. In the rest of the taxa, we were unable to detect any putative MF, but had varying numbers of non-mycorrhizal endophytes. We also found that diversity of putative MF was higher in plants from soils with the lowest P levels recorded. Putative mycorrhizal OTUs were predominantly from the Tulasnella lineage, followed by Ceratobasidium and Serendipita. Within a small subset of samples, a difference in colonised endophytes depending on the collection season was observed. In vitro germination studies using 10 OTUs of mycorrhizal fungi in 14 orchid species showed mostly generalist associations. When orchid seed and fungal sources were studied irrespective of habitat, life form, and distance from each other (orchid seed and fungal source), compatibility for symbiotic seed germination was observed in most cases. Issues with the identification of compatible MF and symbiotic system of seed germination are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecology and Diversity of Orchids)
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Article
Land Use Effects on Airborne Bacterial Communities Are Evident in Both Near-Surface and Higher-Altitude Air
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 85; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13020085 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Land use influences the composition of near-surface airborne bacterial communities, and bacteria can be transported through the atmosphere at global scales. The atmosphere mixes vertically, but rigorously assessing whether the effects of land use on atmospheric communities extends to higher altitudes requires examining [...] Read more.
Land use influences the composition of near-surface airborne bacterial communities, and bacteria can be transported through the atmosphere at global scales. The atmosphere mixes vertically, but rigorously assessing whether the effects of land use on atmospheric communities extends to higher altitudes requires examining communities from multiple altitudes collected at a stable location and timeframe. In this study, we collected near-surface (<2 m) and higher-altitude (150 m) air samples from three sites in an agricultural/developed location and a forested/undeveloped location. We used bacterial 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing to compare communities and predict functionality by altitude. Higher-altitude and near-surface communities did not differ in composition within each location. Communities collected above the undeveloped location were equally variable at both altitudes; higher-altitude samples from the developed location predominantly contained Firmicutes and were less variable than near-surface samples. We also compared airborne taxa to those present in soil and snow. Communities from higher-altitude samples above the developed location contained fewer overlapping taxa with soil and snow sources, and overlapping Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) among the three sources differed by location. Our results suggest that land use affects the composition of both near-surface and higher-altitude airborne bacterial communities and, therefore, may influence broad bacterial dispersal patterns. This small-scale pilot study provides a framework for simultaneously examining local and regional airborne microbial communities that can be applied to larger studies or studies using different types of samplers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Ecology in the Atmosphere)
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Article
Interstitial Annelida
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 77; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13020077 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Members of the following marine annelid families are found almost exclusively in the interstitial environment and are highly adapted to move between sand grains, relying mostly on ciliary locomotion: Apharyngtidae n. fam., Dinophilidae, Diurodrilidae, Nerillidae, Lobatocerebridae, Parergodrilidae, Polygordiidae, Protodrilidae, Protodriloididae, Psammodrilidae and Saccocirridae. [...] Read more.
Members of the following marine annelid families are found almost exclusively in the interstitial environment and are highly adapted to move between sand grains, relying mostly on ciliary locomotion: Apharyngtidae n. fam., Dinophilidae, Diurodrilidae, Nerillidae, Lobatocerebridae, Parergodrilidae, Polygordiidae, Protodrilidae, Protodriloididae, Psammodrilidae and Saccocirridae. This article provides a review of the evolution, systematics, and diversity of these families, with the exception of Parergodrilidae, which was detailed in the review of Orbiniida by Meca, Zhadan, and Struck within this Special Issue. While several of the discussed families have previously only been known by a few described species, recent surveys inclusive of molecular approaches have increased the number of species, showing that all of the aforementioned families exhibit a high degree of cryptic diversity shadowed by a limited number of recognizable morphological traits. This is a challenge for studies of the evolution, taxonomy, and diversity of interstitial families as well as for their identification and incorporation into ecological surveys. By compiling a comprehensive and updated review on these interstitial families, we hope to promote new studies on their intriguing evolutionary histories, adapted life forms and high and hidden diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Diversity of Annelids)
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Article
Avian Haemosporidian Diversity on Sardinia: A First General Assessment for the Insular Mediterranean
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 75; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/d13020075 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 6
Abstract
The Western Palearctic is one of the most investigated regions for avian haemosporidian parasites (Haemoproteus, Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon), yet geographic gaps in our regional knowledge remain. Here, we report the first haemosporidian screening of the breeding birds from Sardinia (the [...] Read more.
The Western Palearctic is one of the most investigated regions for avian haemosporidian parasites (Haemoproteus, Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon), yet geographic gaps in our regional knowledge remain. Here, we report the first haemosporidian screening of the breeding birds from Sardinia (the second-largest Mediterranean Island and a biodiversity hotspot), and the first for the insular Mediterranean in general. We examined the occurrence of haemosporidians by amplifying their mtDNA cytb gene in 217 breeding birds, belonging to 32 species. The total prevalence of infected birds was 55.3%, and of the 116 haplotypes recovered, 84 were novel. Despite the high number of novel lineages, phylogenetic analysis did not highlight Sardinia-specific clades; instead, some Sardinian lineages were more closely related to lineages previously recovered from continental Europe. Host-parasite network analysis indicated a specialized host-parasite community. Binomial generalized linear models (GLMs), performed at the community level, suggested an elevational effect on haemosporidian occurrence probability (negative for Haemoproteus; positive for Leucocytozoon) likely due to differences in the abundance of insect vectors at different elevations. Furthermore, a GLM revealed that sedentary birds showed a higher probability of being infected by novel haplotypes and long-distance migrants showed a lower probability of novel haplotype infection. We hypothesize that the high diversity of haemosporidians is linked to the isolation of breeding bird populations on Sardinia. This study adds to the growing knowledge on haemosporidians lineage diversity and distribution in insular environments and presents new insights on potential host-parasite associations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bird Parasites)
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